Solidarity, not charity

poster for THE OLD OAK, a film by Ken Loach
Courtesy of Zeitgeist Films

British director Ken Loach claims that he’s made his last film, that he’s retiring, but when you see The Old Oak, his alleged swan song, you can’t help but think the 87-year old still has some great stories to tell. 

 

The Old Oak is the name of a pub in a village in the north of England that’s been decimated by the closure of local mining companies. The pub’s customers gather at their local to lament the old days of steady union jobs, and to grumble about a recent change that’s roiling their community: the arrival of several Syrian refugee families who are being resettled in the village’s suddenly cheap houses.

If you follow the news in the U.S. — anti-migrant chants at MAGA rallies and imaginary crime waves — you can probably guess a few of the plot points. But Loach is anything but heavy handed or prescriptive. The film is sad and funny and surprising, 

 

One of its messages — about the healing effects of sharing food (pub owner TJ remembers his mother saying, “When you eat together, you stick together,” about the communal meals that were served in the pub’s back room to striking miners and their families) — will probably feel familiar to those who know EVLovesNYC. 

 

Another line of dialogue in THE OLD OAK, spoken by TJ as he reinstates the tradition of communal meals: “This is about solidarity, not charity.” 

THE OLD OAK is still playing in select U.S. theaters. Watch for it on streaming services soon.

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